After two consecutive victories against ranked opponents, Miami has a prime opportunity to improve to a winning record for the first time this season against Georgia Tech in the annual Homecoming game.
The Yellow Jackets (3-5, 2-4 ACC), fresh off a 26-17 loss to Virginia Tech last weekend, are expecting their quarterback Jeff Sims to play a major role for them on Saturday against the Hurricanes (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Sims, a 6-foot-3 freshman from Jacksonville, Florida, compiled 1,654 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns through seven games this season.
“Every team in the ACC has athletic quarterbacks,” senior safety Amari Carter said. “[Sims] can make a play in the air but is great with his feet.”
Sims will match up on Saturday against Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who is on an absolute tear as of late. Over his last two starts, the redshirt freshman threw for over 750 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
“[Van Dyke’s] always been working hard,” Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz said. “He just needed the confidence to go out and do it.”
Despite the success he and the rest of the team have recently, Van Dyke has made an effort not to get up caught up in the barrage of praise.
“[I] just go about my day,” Van Dyke said. “I haven’t really done anything. Yeah, we won two games, but we got four left.”
Van Dyke is looking to punish a very vulnerable Georgia Tech pass defense that ranks 108th nationally in passing yards allowed per game.
“Any time you can go out and do what [Van Dyke] did against two great defenses, it’s impressive,” Miami center Jakai Clark said. “He keeps working hard in practice, so he’s going to keep getting better.”
Georgia Tech pose’s a unique threat in the running game against Miami with the duo of Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
Gibbs, a freshman from Dalton, Georgia, has nearly 900 total yards of offense for the Yellow Jackets this season. He uses his mix of speed, agility and catching ability to cause headaches for opposing defenses.
“Gibbs is the best [running] back we’ve faced since Kenneth Walker from Michigan State,” Diaz said.
One area of the Canes’ defense that will have to be excellent against the Yellow Jackets is tackling, which has improved in recent games.
“These last two weeks, we’ve focused more on wrapping up, keeping our leverage,” Carter said. “We don’t want to be known as a defense that can’t tackle.”
One Hurricane who will be looking to build off a successful performance in last weekend’s game is freshman wide receiver Key’Shawn Smith, who scored his first career touchdown last Saturday against Pittsburgh.
“I’ve been confident; I’ve been bringing the juice to practice all week,” Smith said. “I want another [touchdown].”
Smith and the rest of the explosive Miami offense will have more opportunities to score against Georgia Tech on Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 12:30 p.m.